Yesterday, the Seahawks announced a schedule of summer activities dedicated to the 12th Man across the Pacific Northwest.
Showcasing that summer schedule is the Seahawks 12 Tour – when wide receiver Doug Baldwin, defensive end Red Bryant, kicker Steven Hauschka, long snapper Clint Gresham and cornerbacks Brandon Browner and Richard Sherman will make stops across the states Washington and Alaska, as well as Vancouver B.C. In conjunction with Washington Tourism Alliance, the Seahawks players will be joined by members of the Sea Gals, team mascot Blitz, and Seahawks fan development staff as they host fan forums, make community appearances and participate in area football camps for youth at each stop.
The tour’s first stop is in Anchorage, Alaska with Hauschka and Gresham (July 9-14) and from there it’s on to Bellingham, Wash. (July 11-12) and Vancouver, B.C. (July 13-15) with Baldwin and Bryant. The tour will wrap-up with the cornerback-half of the “Legion of Boom” – Browner and Sherman – traveling to Kennewick (July 18-19) and Vancouver, Wash. (July 19-21).
“I wanted to be able to do it again because I had so much fun doing it before and meeting all different kinds of people,” said Baldwin, who participated in last year’s 12 Tour. “First and foremost, you get to connect with the fans and get to see that side of the game. It’s always interesting, but it’s also inspiring because you’ve got all of these people that are cheering you on. It kind of builds us up and gives us that extra energy and extra drive.”
Baldwin has never traveled to Bellingham or Vancouver, B.C., so he’s looking forward to connecting with the local community and fans in a setting outside of CenturyLink Field.
“Seeing them outside of the football field will be a great chance to interact with them,” Baldwin said. “It was just fascinating, because as dedicated as we are to our craft, we met tons of people last year who are just as dedicated to cheering us on every Sunday. It’s an awesome experience.”
Minicamp may have wrapped yesterday and training camp is still over a month out, but Baldwin’s football fun at Virginia Mason Athletic Center isn’t over just yet. Tomorrow, he’ll take part in the Seahawks All-Pro Varsity Skills Camp with youth ages 9-14, coaching up kids who eventually hope to play ball at the high school level.
And if you’re a loyal-12 looking for some Seahawks-love outside of the Pacific Northwest, here’s a look at several other Seahawks-player-driven football camps that may be in your area:
- June 22-23: Quarterback Russell Wilson’s Passing Academy in Richmond, Va.
- June 22-23: Seahawks Family Football Fest with linebacker K.J. Wright, wide receiver Charly Martin, running back Christine Michael & tight end Luke Willson in Renton, Wash. at VMAC
- June 25-26: Quarterback Russell Wilson’s Passing Academy in Raleigh, N.C.
- June 27-July 23: Free Seahawks Gatorade Junior Training Camps located throughout the state of Washington
- June 28-29: Free safety Earl Thomas’ Football Camp in Orange, Texas
- June 29: Defensive end Cliff Avril’s Inaugural Youth Football Camp in Green Cove Springs, Fla.
- June 29-30: Quarterback Russell Wilson’s Passing Academy in Madison, Wis.
- July 8-9: Quarterback Russell Wilson’s Passing Academy in Spokane, Wash.
- July 9-12: Defensive end Greg Scruggs’ Pro Football Camp in Colorado Springs, Colo.
- July 10-13: Wide receiver Golden Tate and former Seahawks safety Lawyer Milloy’s Football Camp in Tacoma, Wash.
- July 13: Running back Marshawn Lynch’s 7th annual Fam 1st Family Football Camp in Oakland, Calif.
- July 13-14: Quarterback Russell Wilson’s Passing Academy in Renton, Wash. at VMAC
Matt Williamson likes what the Seahawks have done this offseason to strengthen an already solid roster that includes All-Pro players in running back Marshawn Lynch, free safety Earl Thomas, cornerback Richard Sherman and center Max Unger, as well as five Pro Bowl selections – quarterback Russell Wilson and left tackle Russell Okung, in addition to Lynch, Unger and Thomas.
Williamson provides a comprehensive look at each team in the NFC at ESPN.com while handing out his grades – with the Cardinals and the Eagles the only other teams earning an A. It’s an Insider feature, so registration and a fee is required to view it. But here’s a sampling of what he has to say about the most-recent moves by general manager John Schneider and coach Pete Carroll:
On the trade to acquire Percy Harvin: “Along with San Francisco, the Seahawks might be the best team in the league – and this offseason only reinforces that notion for me. Adding Harvin as an explosive element to this offense is gigantic. When healthy, he is one of the best players in the league and he was playing at an extremely high level last season before being sidelined with an ankle injury. Seattle will get creative with how it employs him.”
On the defensive additions: “A great defense got even better this offseason. The addition of (Antoine) Winfield, who excels in the slot, against the run and as a blitzer, makes the league’s best secondary very much improved. Seattle lost (Jason) Jones and (Alan) Branch up front, but added (Cliff) Avril, (Michael) Bennett, Jordan Hill and Jesse Williams. Those switches in personnel not only make them younger up front, but also improve the pass rush dramatically with Avril off the edge and Bennett coming from either a standard defensive end position or on the inside in passing situations.”
On the 325-pound Williams, the defensive tackle who was drafted in the fifth round: “On tape, Williams looked like a first-round pick to me, and if medical issues do not slow him down, he could be a very instrumental member of this defensive line. The Seahawks are stacked.”
A recap of the activities at Virginia Mason Athletic Center for May 20, as the Seahawks kicked off the OTA portion of their offseason program:
Russell Wilson. The Seahawks’ second-year quarterback made it difficult to not watch him, and coach Pete Carroll summed up the situation when asked how much farther along Wilson is this year compared to last year – when he had just been selected in the third round of the NFL Draft and still was competing for the starting job with the since-departed duo of Matt Flynn and Tarvaris Jackson.
“There’s no way of even calculating that,” Carroll said after a crisp, spirited practice on yet another gorgeous day along the shores of Lake Washington. “His awareness and his sense for the finest details, we jumped offside today and he’s working on hard counts on the first play of team (drills).
“He didn’t know what a hard count was last year at this time.”
That might be stretching it just a tad, but saying that Wilson had a very impressive outing in the first of the team’s 10 OTA practices is not.
In that first team segment Carroll mentioned, Wilson completed passes to wide receivers Doug Baldwin and Golden Tate and also scrambled twice, before throwing a touchdown pass to tight end Anthony McCoy. Wilson remained almost as sharp, and aware, for the rest of the session.
“It’s really hard to equate what it is, because he’s applied himself so much that he’s taken an extraordinary amount of information and he’s processing it,” Carroll said. “He threw a couple of balls today – things that we’ve talked about over the offseason we’d like to take a shot at – and he did it today just to see what would happen. With full awareness of why he was doing it.”
Before the OTA session was over, Wilson had completed passes to 10 receivers – running back Robert Turbin; Baldwin and McCoy; Tate, running back Derrick Coleman, rookie tight end Luke Willson, Percy Harvin, tight end Zach Miller, wide receiver Bryan Walters and wide receiver Jermaine Kearse.
The pass to Kearse was vintage Wilson – and that’s saying something, as well, that a second-year QB already has established trademark nuances to his game. It came on the final play, as Wilson avoided pressure and got off a pass that caught Kearse as much as Kearse caught the pass.
“Russell is the kind of players that will affect other guys,” Carroll said. “He affects everybody around him and hopefully that will help everybody play better.”
Offensive line. Right tackle Breno Giacomini participated fully, after being limited in Phase 2 of the offseason program following elbow surgery. His returned allowed the No. 1 offense to field the same line that closed last season – Pro Bowl left tackle Russell Okung, left guard Paul McQuistan, All-Pro center Max Unger, right guard J.R. Sweezy and Giacomini.
Comprising the second unit, from left tackle to right: Mike Person, who had been working for Giacomini with the No. 1 line; Rishaw Johnson, Lemuel Jeanpierre, John Moffitt and Michael Bowie. In the third unit: Alvin Bailey, Johnson, Jared Smith, Ryan Seymour and Jordon Roussos.
Cliff Avril. And that’s what the defensive end who was signed in free agency was doing – watching, because he’s dealing with plantar fascia that he got a month ago.
But with Bruce Irvin facing a four-game suspension to start the regular season and Chris Clemons still recovering from surgery to repair the ligament and meniscus damage in his left knee from the wild-card playoff win over the Redskins in January, Avril is slated to be the starter at the Leo end spot in the Sept. 8 opener against the Panthers in Carolina.
“I like the fact that Cliff is here because he gave us a cushion for Clem,” Carroll said. “That now changes for the first month of the season.”
Today, Irvin continued to work at Leo end in the No. 1 nickel line, with Mike Morgan taking over with the second unit and Ty Powell going with the third unit. In the base defense, Michael Bennett was the Leo end with the No. 1 line.
Tight end Darren Fells was re-signed this morning, while snapper Adam Steiner was released to clear a spot on the 90-man roster.
Fells, a basketball player in college who also played professionally in Belgium, Ireland and Argentina, was released two weeks ago. But he attended the May 10-12 rookie minicamp on a tryout basis. Steiner had been claimed off waivers last week.
Also, running back Christine Michael, who was selected in the second round of the NFL Draft last month, signed his rookie contract.
The players also have OTA sessions Tuesday and Thursday this week. Next week, they’ll go Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday.
YOU DON’T SAY, PLAYER EDITION
“We really don’t care. Coach said we’ve got a lot of hype, but he also said let’s make it natural. Everybody around here expects us to win, but we expect ourselves to win, too. We don’t come out here saying we hope to lose. With a good team comes a lot of talk, but we put all that behind us. We’re out here having fun, we’re competing and that’s how it’s going to be.” – Harvin, when asked how the players were handling the heightened expectations that have come from being regarded among the “favorites” in the league this offseason by the national media
YOU DON’T SAY, COACH EDITION
“It was a very, very good first day for us.” – Carroll
Last year’s first-round draft pick Bruce Irvin, the 6-foot-3, 248-pound defensive end out of West Virginia, could be slated for a breakout year, writes NFL.com columnist Adam Schein.
Draft analysts questioned the pick of the unrefined pass rusher a year ago, but head coach Pete Carroll and general manager John Schneider saw the upside in his tremendous athletic ability and physical makeup.
“I just need a great group of people around me and need to get around a great group of pros who are going to show me how to be a pro on and off the field and I think I’ll be all right,” Irvin said the day he was drafted with the 15th overall pick in 2012.
Despite seeing limited snaps as a situational pass rusher a season ago, Irvin led all rookies with 8.0 sacks, recorded 19 quarterback hits and forced a fumble. In 2013 he’ll be joined at the line of scrimmage by newcomers Cliff Avril and Michael Bennett, who combined for 18.5 sacks last season and could help create more space for Irvin to get after the quarterback.
On Irvin, Schein writes: “This cat is a freak athlete. Irvin had eight sacks in his rookie year — and he was still raw. With a full NFL season under his belt, this Seattle pass rusher will become one of the elite sack artists and disruptive forces in the game.”
Also appearing on Schein’s list of breakout candidates for 2013 are Cleveland Browns running back Trent Richardson, St. Louis Rams cornerback Janoris Jenkins, Tennessee Titans tight end Delanie Walker, New York Giants running back David Wilson, Baltimore Ravens offensive lineman Kelechi Osemele, Buffalo Bills defensive tackle Marcell Dareus, San Diego Chargers wide receiver Vincent Brown, and Detroit Lions defensive tackle Nick Fairley.
“The best way to kick off my appearance for the season is without a shirt on. I’m in a little bit better shape, right?”
If you’re a fan of Seahawks fullback Michael Robinson’s “The Real Rob Report” then it should be a pretty easy guess as to who’s behind that lighthearted quote that helps kick off his newest episode.
If you’re not yet a fan of the show, it’s about time you get in on all of the behind-the-scenes Seahawks goodness.
Robinson’s latest chapter features a look in at Phase 2 of the Seahawks’ offseason program at Virginia Mason Athletic Center. The familiar faces of Russell Wilson, Earl Thomas, Kam Chancellor, Brandon Browner, Winston Guy, John Moffitt, Max Unger, Josh Portis, Jermaine Kearse, and Phil Bates are all included, as well as the first “Real Rob Report” introductions with newcomers Percy Harvin, Cliff Avril, and Michael Bennett.
Remember, you can stay up to date on everything from the Real Mike Rob by following his show on Twitter and subscribing to his channel on YouTube. And be sure to check out Moffitt’s venture into the apparel business at moffittmerch.com, where like he said in the video above – he’s not “lining his pockets” with the proceeds – they help feed the homeless at Seattle’s Union Gospel Mission.
There are some automatic circle-the-date events in the NFL. The draft. The start of training camp. The regular-season opener.
For Dan Quinn, this year also included April 29 – which just happens to be today, and the day Phase 2 of the Seahawks’ offseason program kicked off. It marked the first time since the final practice of the 2012 season that the coaches have been allowed on the field with the players. And for Quinn, it was his first time on an NFL practice field since the 2010 season, as he spent the past two years as the defensive coordinator at the University of Florida following a two-season stint as the Seahawks’ D-line coach.
“This is the day I’ve really been looking forward to,” Quinn said. “I’ve been looking forward to this Phase 2 starting. In fact, I even told that to the guys before hand – we’re all kind of getting back to our element, which is being out on the field.”
His anticipation over this day is understandable. It was Quinn’s first day on a practice field as a defensive coordinator in the NFL, a position he was hired to fill in January after former D-coordinator Gus Bradley left to become head coach of the Jaguars. It also was Quinn’s first on-field session with the free-agent additions to the unit he now coordinates – linemen Cliff Avril, Michael Bennett and Tony McDaniel and cornerback Antoine Winfield.
“This is a chance for us to see some of the new players we’ve added on the field,” Quinn said. “The classroom work has been good. But this is the next step, the precursor to playing. The culmination has been good and the players, to their credit, worked.”
The players did that work in the indoor practice facility at Virginia Mason Athletic Center because of the rain that was falling in Renton this morning. But it didn’t dampen the enthusiasm of the players or coaches, even though their “against air” efforts focused primarily on technique.
“It’s always fun to get out there on the field,” offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell said. “We still can’t do a whole heck of a lot, but at least we’re running routes, catching balls, calling plays.”
The limited on-field activity that is allowed in Phase 2 continues through May 17, with a rookie minicamp scheduled for May 10-12. Phase 3 begins on May 20 and will include 10 OTA sessions where the offense is allowed to work against the defense, and vice versa. The offseason program concludes for the veterans with a minicamp June 11-13.
Mike Sando, the NFC West blogger at ESPN.com, has turned Matt Williamson’s positional rankings for the division’s four teams into a series of informational and entertaining “conversations” with the website’s resident scout.
Williamson ranks the Seahawks as the second-best team in the NFC West behind the conference champion 49ers, but the Seahawks come out No. 1 at quarterback, running back, defensive line, cornerback and safety. They are No. 2 at wide receiver, offensive line, linebackers and head coach, and No. 3 at tight end.
It’s worth checking out the rankings and the dialogue on each:
Williamson: “If I were starting a team, (Colin) Kaepernick and (Russell) Wilson would rank among my top five picks. The upside for Kaepernick is so great. I don’t expect him to take a step back. I just don’t think he is as far along as Wilson in the fundamentals of quarterback play. Wilson coming into the league was ahead of Kaepernick in terms of being a pocket passer, reading defenses, not relying on his physical gifts so much and just in the mental side of things.”
Williamson: “Seattle has the best back in the division in Marshawn Lynch, and Robert Turbin is a heckuva backup. It’s not a knock on (Frank) Gore. I like LaMichael James and like Kendall Hunter, too. So, the 49ers have three guys to talk about instead of two for Seattle.”
Williamson: “I’ll take (Percy) Harvin every day over (Michael) Crabtree and that is not a knock on Crabtree. Harvin is more dynamic, more versatile. He frightens defenses way more. You can do so much more with him. He has big-play ability and is just a better football player. When I rank the wide receivers in this division, it goes Larry (Fitzgerald), Harvin and Crabtree, but Harvin is closer to Fitz than Crabtree is to Harvin.”
Sando: “The Cardinals were the only NFL team without a touchdown reception from a tight end last season. Bad quarterback play had quite a bit to do with that, of course.”
Williamson: “Breno (Giacomini) has been serviceable. Marshawn Lynch has room to run. I think they have two good players (Max Unger and Russell Okung) and then a bunch of guys. I do think the whole is greater than sum of the parts. There is some truth to that in Seattle, which goes to coaching (by Tom Cable).”
Williamson: “They have a wide skill set, which I like, too. (Bruce) Irvin and (Red) Bryant are totally different players at defensive end. Irvin, (Chris) Clemons, (Cliff) Avril and Bryant give you versatility. For the Rams, (William) Hayes is an important part of that equation. He had seven sacks last year. (Robert) Quinn and (Chris) Long are questionable against the run. Hayes can be a base run defensive end. Plus, he moves inside and can be a quality rusher there.”
Sando: “The Seahawks found one starter in the second round (Bobby Wagner) and another in the fourth (K.J. Wright). They plan to use Cliff Avril at strong-side linebacker in some situations. But with Leroy Hill apparently having run his course in Seattle, the team figures to draft a weak-side linebacker to compete with Malcolm Smith.”
Sando: “Seattle is really the only team in the division appearing set at safety for now. I could still see the Seahawks drafting one for insurance in case they have a hard time re-signing Kam Chancellor. In the meantime, Earl Thomas might be the best safety in the league. At least I’m assuming you’d agree in saying he’s moved past Troy Polamalu and Ed Reed, who were long considered the standards.”
Williamson: “Seattle to me has the best set of corners in the league, clearly (in Richard Sherman and Brandon Browner). And then (Antoine) Winfield might be the best slot corner in the league. It’s almost unfair.”
Williamson: “(The Rams’ Jeff) Fisher is a heckuva coach, but he is behind two of the top five in the league (Jim Harbaugh and Pete Carroll) when it comes to ranking head coaches in the NFC West.”
In a word, “No.” In two words, “No way.” If you need three words, how about: “Are you kidding?”
We figured we’d answer the question in the teaser for Jason La Canfora’s feature at CBSSports.com – Is there a better NFL personnel guy right now than Seattle’s John Schneider? – before actually getting into what he had to say about the Seahawks’ general manager.
La Canfora points out the obvious, which is too often overlooked when it comes to Schneider. Maybe it’s because Schneider looks too young to be running a NFL franchise. Maybe it’s that old stigma of doing all that he’s doing in Seattle, a remote outpost on the NFL landscape. Maybe the XXXL-sized shadow cast by coach Pete Carroll.
Whatever the reason, it’s nice to see Schneider getting his due – some overdue due.
Writes La Canfora: “John Schneider might be the most aggressive general manager in the NFL, and, in my estimation, no one has done a better job evaluating talent and manipulating the draft, trades and free agency since he took over the Seahawks in 2010. …
“So, here in early April, I challenge anyone to find a team that made better calculated moves than Seattle and Schneider. I am a huge Percy Harvin guy, and felt he could be an absolute difference-maker, particularly if a team with a dynamic quarterback like Russell Wilson or Colin Kaepernick landed him. Turns out Harvin can now line up alongside Wilson and Marshawn Lynch. Yes, the price in terms of draft picks was high – but Schneider also did well to recoup picks and clear up budget space by spinning backup quarterback Matt Flynn to Oakland – and there was no way the Seahawks were going to get a talent anything close to what Harvin provides picking where they were in this draft.
“I love the move, and while I understand Harvin has warts, I don’t see him clashing with Pete Carroll or being a persistent problem child in Seattle. He’s making what he’s worth; he’s content and has been migraine free for quite some time. His versatility and game-breaking skills at several receiver spots, running back and on special teams cannot be overstated.
“Seattle also had a need at pass rusher and landed Cliff Avril – and another player just hitting his prime and perhaps the best rusher on the market – and at a bargain-basement rate. They added Michael Bennett for good measure on a prove-it deal, wisely allowing the market to set before wading in. All the while, I continue to hear edge rusher Chris Clemons is making great progress recovering from knee surgery. When you consider this team was looking Super Bowl-worthy already, plus all of Wilson’s upside, a big tip of the cap to Schneider.”
All we can add to this is, “Yeah” and “It’s about time someone noticed the job Schneider is doing, and has done.”
Like last year. Schneider and staff got Lynch and run-stuffing/kick-blocking defensive end Red Bryant re-signed before they could become hot commodities in free agency. And can Schneider ever get enough credit for seeing things in Wilson that others couldn’t, or refused to because he’s “too short to play in this league?”
The answer to that last question, of course, is the same as those offered to the first question: “No.” “No way.” “Are you kidding?”
The Seahawks continued the reshaping of their defensive line today by announcing the signing of former Dolphins defensive tackle Tony McDaniel in free agency.
The 6-foot-7, 305-pound McDaniel entered the league as an undrafted rookie in 2006 with the Jaguars, who traded him to the Dolphins in 2009. McDaniel has 119 career tackles, including 36 in 2010; and 8.5 career sacks, including 2.5 in 2010 and 2011.
McDaniel obviously is excited about the move, as he posted this photo on Instagram.
He is the third defensive lineman to sign with the Seahawks since the free-agency period began on March 12, joining defensive ends Cliff Avril and Michael Bennett.
Defensive tackle Alan Branch, a starter with the Seahawks the past two seasons, has signed with Buffalo in free agency, the Bills have announced.
Branch became expendable with the Seahawks as the club added Cliff Avril and Michael Bennett in free agency.
After joining the Seahawks as a free agent in 2011, Branch started 31 games the past two seasons, posting 34 tackles and three sacks in 2011 and 30 tackles and one sack last season. He played his first four NFL seasons with the Cardinals.
Branch is the second of the Seahawks’ nine unrestricted free agents to sign with another team. Defensive tackle Jason Jones joined the Lions.